James May has now reacted to his Top Gear Botswana Special Mercedes W123 being found by a YouTuber earlier this year. He discusses his thoughts on the car during a DriveTribe video. He explained that while he very much liked the car, describing it as “possibly the world’s best car”, he didn’t want to bring it home and restore it.
He said the following to DriveTribe presenter Mike Fernie:
“I remember it being like a W123 Mercedes really so a bit ponderous and weighty and a bit po-faced but utterly dependable and like the world’s best made car which is why I chose it.”
He adds: “Those Mercedes, it’s one of those cars that Africa loves a bit like the Peugeot 504.
“There’s a reason why they were successful there, It’s because they keep working, they’re infinitely repairable, they’re understood, you can get the parts.
“I remember writing a column soon after we did that trip and I said there’s no reason why a Mercedes like that shouldn’t last for 100 years and I still think that’s true if you look after it, it could last several lifetimes.”
What Shape Was TheTop Gear Mercedes 123 Found In?
The car was found by a YouTuber named Alaska to Africa when he ventured into the Botswana village of Maun. There, he found the car had quite a life after it was featured in the Top Gear episode, with it being hastily repaired for life back on the road. Since then, it had been put through its paces and didn’t look int he best condition.
Jeremy Clarkson’s Lancia Beta Coupe Was Also Recently Found In Africa
The Lancia Beta Coupe looked in a similar condition, with it also being repaired after its Top Gear adventure.
Is James May Going To Bring It Home Like Richard Hammond Brought Home Oliver?
Short answer, no. May said, “I think bringing it home would be utterly the wrong thing to do as would restoring it.
“All the story, all the history of the thing would be lost.
“It’s a bit like when people over restore old buildings or old aeroplanes the story is in the way it decayed and the way it’s been patched up.
“And also, to be honest, it’s not a particularly useful car for me here but that car, for all the reasons I outlined earlier, is crucial in a place like that.
“A place with not that much infrastructure, a very strong make do and mend mentality which it has to have.
“I think it would be wrong to deny that part of the world that car just because of some nostalgic, sentimental whim.
“It has to stay there, it has to keep being mended and being mended until it’s just a shell that’s running around.
“That’s where it lives, it’s like putting an animal in a zoo bringing it back here.”
James May Looks Back On His Time During Top Gear In Botswana
“It’s a long time ago, it’s the first special we ever did but the things that stick in my mind are scenery, some of the food and the locals,” James said.
“We met a lot of nice locals and they were good fun.
“We had a bloke with us, I think his name was Noah who drove the Beetle backup car which we were threatened with if our cars broke down. The bad bits were camping.”